MINNEAPOLIS (CNS) — JunFen Freihammer, a senior at DeLaSalle Catholic High School in Minneapolis, seems a perfect fit to record a prayer to lift hardships caused by the coronavirus.
Freihammer, 18, was born in Wuhan, China, considered by many researchers as the origin of the virus that has infected tens of thousands of people and disrupted lives worldwide.
She also stayed with a family in northern Italy last summer during an exchange program through her school in Minneapolis. Freihammer enjoyed her host family’s hospitality and helped teach English to children. More recently, northern Italy was hit hard as the coronavirus spread. The entire country has been quarantined.
The teenager recently recorded a five-minute “Litany in Time of Need” with Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda of St. Paul and Minneapolis. On March 19, the feast of St. Joseph, the litany started airing daily on Relevant Radio.
Father Francis “Rocky” Hoffman, executive director of Relevant Radio, suggested involving a student from a Catholic school. With the recording planned for the next day, Freihammer offered to do it, after hearing about it from her mother, Karin, who is senior development director for Relevant Radio.
“It was an honor for me to be with someone praying for my home country and praying with the U.S. as we go through this national crisis,” she said. “Hopefully, it will touch many people,” she said. United in prayer, people can overcome adversity, she said.
In a March 18 letter to archdiocesan priests and Catholic school leaders, Archbishop Hebda and Auxiliary Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens of St. Paul and Minneapolis invited them and Catholic school students to face the challenges of the present moment through prayer.
“Throughout the ages, faced with all manner of illness and calamities, believers have petitioned for God’s grace and assistance through litanies,” they wrote. “A litany is a prayer that we can offer when we are alone, at home together with family, or gathered as a virtual community.”
“We adopted JunFen at age 6,” Karin Freihammer told The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. “How beautiful that she can pray the litany with the shepherd of the local church. It’s special for her. All the dots are being connected.”
The recording will air locally at 11 a.m. seven days a week indefinitely until the pandemic subsides, Karin Freihammer said.
Relevant Radio stations “from Maui to Maine” will play the litany, she said, reaching a potential audience of 220 million. Those who want to tune in can use the Relevant Radio app or go to the radio network’s website for programming information, https://relevantradio.com.
“This is an important moment in history for Relevant Radio to be of service to our country and our world by inviting listeners to join in prayer and to trust in the Lord together as one human family,” she said.
Jason Slattery, director of the archdiocesan Office for the Mission of Catholic Education, said the church has many ways to reach people in faith, and the Litany in Time of Need is one of them.
“In support of the leadership of Archbishop Hebda and Bishop Cozzens, the Office for the Mission of Catholic Education believes that the church has an age old toolbox of tools and teachings that are essential aids in constructing a response during this national emergency,” Slattery said. “We believe that the present moment is a good one to put these tools, like the Litany in Time of Need, into the hands of our students and families.
“Trusting in the help of God, as a sign of solidarity, we ask the whole Catholic community to join us in praying for deliverance of the human family from sickness and all evil.”
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Umberger is on the staff of The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.